tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: DAA

22 Nov 2017

African Group perspective on MC11: draft Ministerial Decision on electronic commerce

The AfDB posts a series of EOIs for the Tripartite Capacity Building Programme: Programme coordinator, Rules of Origin expert, Trade expert, NTMs / NTBs Mechanism manager / administrator, Industrial development expert

In event, report updates:

(i) Launched this morning, in Nairobi: the InfoTradeKenya Portal

(ii) Launching later today, in Geneva: Least Developed Countries Report 2017, on the theme of transformational energy access. A related initiative: Commonwealth kick-starter project to support Least Developed Countries

(iii) Starting tomorrow, in Vienna: UNIDO’s LDC Ministerial Conference 2017

(iv) UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Commission (ninth session, 27 Nov - 1 Dec, Geneva): advance documentation. Profiled input: Report of the Multi-year Expert Meeting on Transport, Trade Logistics and Trade Facilitation (pdf). The secretariat presented a new portfolio of tools dedicated to sustainable freight transport, the sustainable freight transport toolkit, aimed at building the capacity of developing countries to enable a reorientation towards sustainable freight transport, through sound transport policies, measures and actions and financing mechanisms. The toolkit featured three main products, namely a web portal, a training package and the UNCTAD Framework for Sustainable Freight Transport.

South Africa joins Afreximbank as a shareholder

With the shareholding, South Africa becomes the 47th African country to join Afreximbank as a participating state and/or shareholder. It is being represented by the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa as its designated investor in line with the terms of the provisions of the Charter of the Bank. “It is a significant vote of confidence to have South Africa join Afreximbank as a shareholder,” said Dr. Benedict Oramah, President of the Bank, in welcoming the news that the country had joined the Bank as a shareholder. “South Africa accounts for about 30 to 35 per cent of total intra-African trade, making its membership critical for the attainment of the Bank’s strategic goal of moving intra-African trade share of Africa’s total trade from about 15% currently to 22% by 2021 and raising its annual value to more than $250bn by that year.” [Eritrea joins Afreximbank as participating state]

Magufuli, Museveni sign big business deals (The Independent)

Isaac Shinyekwa, the renowned research fellow and commentator on trade and regional integration issues from the Economic Policy Research Centre at Makerere University in Kampala says Magufuli’s visit presents an opportunity for Uganda and the EAC integration process. He said, however, that Magufuli’s visit also “provides space for the two presidents to remind themselves about unfulfilled promises and find ways of delivering on them”. “Magufuli is a serious leader and his visit means he supports the EAC integration process. We should not read the initiatives being launched by the heads of state as rituals. The Presidents are serious; they want to do business.” [EAC Summit to decide fate of stalled infrastructure projects, Future of EAC lies in presidents’ hands]

US-Nigeria Bi-National Commission: updates

(i) Economic growth and development (extract from joint communique): Both sides decided to hold the next U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement talks in the first part of 2018 and to work to finalize an agenda for that meeting, to include a decision on a joint work plan on intellectual property protection. The two sides finalized a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a Commercial and Investment Dialogue signed by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Okechukwu Enelamah as a way to strategically engage the private sectors of each country in strengthening commercial ties. Both sides acknowledged the importance of and potential for increased bilateral trade and investment through enhancing the business climate, policy predictability, and transparency. The two sides discussed the importance of implementing World Trade Organization-consistent trade measures, as well as the Trade Facilitation Agreement. The BNC directed the Working Group on Economic Growth and Development to meet within six months to review progress on joint goals.

(ii) Opening remarks by John Sullivan, Deputy Secretary Of State. We want to be partners in your economic success as well. That is why the US government will soon launch a Commercial and Investment Dialogue. Led by our Department of Commerce, the Dialogue will help to develop stronger business networks between our countries and help frame subsequent discussions under our Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, to be led by the Office of the US Trade Representative. We will continue to work closely with the Government of Nigeria on repatriating stolen assets to the people of Nigeria, and as such, we are pleased to co-host the Global Forum on Asset Recovery in December.

Nigeria: ‘Over 50% trucks in Apapa have no business in port’ (Daily Trust)

A new report released by a leading maritime consulting firm has said that more than half of the container trucks visiting Apapa, Lagos, daily have no immediate business to transact at the port. The report, which stems from an independent study conducted by Ships & Ports and a don of the Lagos Business School, Dr. Frank Ojadi, also stated that truckers that genuinely had business to do in the Apapa Port spent an average turnaround time of two days. A total of 5,515 trucks were surveyed at both observation points over a period of two weeks. [Backgrounder, by Francis I. Ojadi, Jackie Walters: Critical factors that impact on the efficiency of the Lagos seaports]

Nigeria loses N1trn to cargo diversion as importers dump Lagos ports (Leadership)

Cargo diversion to seaports of neighbouring countries like Cameroun and Benin Republic has cost Nigeria a whopping N1 trillion annually, Leadership findings have revealed. The loss is due to bad roads, exorbitant import duties and other excessive fees that are payable in Nigerian ports but not present in seaports of neighbouring countries. Leadership had last week reported exclusively that N320bn congestion surcharge earlier saved by the efficiency on the seaside of the ports due to the 2006 ports reform has returned to the nation’s seaports as a result of the present inefficiency. It was gathered that shipping companies now ask importers to pay this surcharge, even before the ship arrives on the shores of Nigeria. Lagos port, being the most viable of all the ports in Nigeria, account for over 80% of importation into Nigeria.

Ghana: Private sector diagnostic (pdf, IFC)

The objective of the Ghana Country Private Sector Diagnostic is to identify the main opportunities for the private sector that will have a strong development impact in Ghana and to highlight the key constraints (both cross-cutting and sector-specific) hampering private sector growth. The CPSD consists of a systematic assessment of all of Ghana’s economic sectors along two dimensions: (a) desirability: how private investments in these sectors could help Ghana to address its development challenges; and (b) expected feasibility: how the constraints standing in the way could be removed. This sector scan led to identification seven priority sectors, of which, three were selected to conduct deep dive studies: namely agribusiness, ICT and education. Extract (pdf):

Cocoa remains the main export crop, accounting for 25% of foreign exchange earnings and 81% of agricultural exports, at nearly $3bn in 2016. The second most important export earner in the food category was fruits ($227m), dominated by bananas, mangoes, cashew nuts and pineapples, while fresh vegetable exports were in fifth position ($35 million, mostly yams). Juice products alone earned $8m in 2016. Most agricultural products are exported to the US, the EU and Japan, but regional markets are growing and cashew nuts have found new markets in India and Vietnam. Opportunities abound to produce for domestic and regional markets, both for industrial use and food consumption. Population growth, high rates of urbanization and rising incomes are driving Ghana’s import bill because of increased demand for more quality and safer foodstuffs such as meat, dairy, and fresh and processed vegetables. Between 2007 and 2014, total imports grew from 8.7bn to $13.3bn, while the proportion dedicated to foodstuffs within that total remained largely unchanged. The total food import bill is projected to increase fourfold over the next 20 years (World Bank, 2017), unless local production is increased.

The Gambia: Investment Policy Review (UNCTAD)​

The IPR assessed The Gambia’s regulatory environment as it affects businesses and set out recommendations for improvement. Among the reforms the report proposes is the clarification of laws affecting investors. The report also recommends the reinforcement of resources for their implementation and the reduction of Government interference in business operations. Addressing the meeting, Isatou Touray, Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, was optimistic for The Gambia’s prospects. Extracts (pdf):

A history of liberal trade policies and the opportunities offered by the port of Banjul and by river transportation have allowed the country to act as a re-export hub in the West African region. The re-exports are mainly composed of basic consumer goods with no or very limited value addition. Still, re-export trade represents over 80% of the country’s total exports and is one of the main sources of foreign exchange. Recurrent border closures have a significant negative impact on trade and investment. Land border closures between The Gambia and Senegal have occurred more than a dozen times in the past 16 years, initiated unpredictably by one of the two countries. Most recently, a 14-week closure, without prior notification or predetermined end date, which also breached trade agreement obligations, came to an end on 24 May 2016. During this period, there was thus no land access to Mali, the destination for about 30% of The Gambia’s exports in 2013 and 2014. This recent closure also affected trade with Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal, which, during the same period, together accounted for 49% of Gambian exports.

Moody’s perspective: Some Sub-Saharan African sovereigns display similar - and in some cases higher - indicators to those preceding the late 1990s emerging market crisis

New World Bank Africa reports:

(i) The impact of fiscal policy on inequality and poverty in Zambia. This study assesses the redistributive impact of fiscal policy, and its individual elements, in Zambia. The study uses an internationally recognized methodology developed by the Commitment to Equity Institute. The study estimates the impact of fiscal revenue collections (taxes) and fiscal expenditures - direct cash and near-cash transfers, in-kind benefits, subsidies - on household-level income inequality and poverty. It then provides evidence to help policy makers and other Zambian stakeholders understand the trade-offs inherent between government’s current fiscal policy priorities (such as energy policy) and other social goals (such as poverty reduction). Having an evidence-based understanding of fiscal policy in Zambia is crucial for two reasons:

(ii) Gender and youth employment in Sub-Saharan Africa: a review of constraints and effective interventions. The paper synthesizes the emerging lessons from a growing evidence base on interventions that aim to support young women’s employment, and identifies knowledge gaps and priority research questions for the future. The objective is to develop a gender-informed policy and research agenda on youth employment that can guide practitioners, development partners, and researchers who seek to advance young women’s empowerment and employment in the context of youth employment programming and policy making. [Companion analysis: Gender and property rights in Sub-Saharan Africa: a review of constraints and effective interventions]

(iii) Comparative perspective: constraints to women’s small-scale cross-border trade in Cambodia and Lao PDR (World Bank)

Trade facilitation projects often assume indirect benefits for small-scale, cross-border traders. Recent studies have shown the challenges faced in Africa by this population, especially women, but it remains unknown in Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, despite large trade facilitation investments. This paper fills this gap, thanks to an innovative mix of original qualitative and quantitative data from various checkpoints on the borders with Thailand and Vietnam. The quantitative data, collected in 2014, consist of an exhaustive list of trade-related border crossings during two to three days and a survey of 158 randomly selected small-scale, cross-border traders and brokers.

Today’s Quick Links:

South Africa: Final report of the HLP on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change

Media statement by Namibia’s MoF in response to ratings downgrade by Fitch

Mozambique: Presidential commitment to economic policy reform

Ghana: China leads in project investments says GIPC report

Mombasa port traffic up 10% in nine months to Sept

Agricultural markets in ‘rising’ Africa: we discuss evidence on 4 topics that recent observational and experimental/quasi-experimental research has focused on

UK’s Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill is posted

‘Uganda’s tea industry needs a regulator’

Chinese oil giant and Chad deny Africa bribery scheme after US probe

Selected updates from the Third ICAO World Aviation Forum, in Abuja: Africa must implement 1990 Yamoussoukro agreement for open skies, says AfDB President, AfDB’s Pierre Guislain calls for bold actions to improve air connectivity in Africa, Buhari says he is under pressure to establish national airline